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April 9, 2014

Welcome to another edition of the mailbag! I've got a Dark Souls 2 review in the works which I'll be jumping right back into so, let's get right to the main event folks (yes, I've watched too much wrestling lately)!

- Michael "Wheels" Apps

This Edition's Contents:

Dragon Quest Tactics

Wow, it has been a while, hasn't it?  Sorry for not writing in.  I think I've dictated half a dozen letters to myself while walking to or from work over the past few months, but then they never made it to an actual email.  Story of my life, I'm afraid.

Wheels' Comment

That's OK, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

How's the year going for you?  It's the end of the school year over here, and I'm going through turnover issues.  Last week was the last class for one of my high level kids, leaving only one other boy in the class and thus no way for us to continue our weekly Dungeons & Dragon Quest homebrew game.  Luckily I was able to whip up a nice final battle for that section of the story, involving eight octopirates, their captain, a squid-faced sorceror, and a kraken, but then we ran out of time anyway because we spent too long arguing over whether or not the team's magician could electrify the floor, how much of it he could electrify, and in the end telling him sorry, but there was no way he could do it without electrocuting his own allies.  So we got the Cliff's notes version of the kraken battle.  Victory!

Wheels' Comment

It's been great, though being a father obviously means I need to try and focus on a smaller set of games or nothing will ever be completed. It's been a tough thing to get a handle on since I'm easily distracted by new games. Of course at some point I will be able to play multi-player friendly stuff like Tales of Symphonia with my son, which should be a blast. Overall great year so far. Sounds like a lot of fun with your class! I keep picturing the battle against the giant octopus from some Shining Force game.

I'm kind of sorry we won't have a chance to continue, though.  I had a nice overall story worked out, and those two had barely made it to the halfway point.  Another year, and we'd be seeing the REAL final boss battle going down.  At about 50 minutes of gaming once a week, it takes a while.  Still, we had a fun time while it lasted.  It started last April with the boys taking their characters on a journey to the great temple of Dharma so they could choose their path in the world.  In order to get there, some detours had to be made, and a monster called the Were-Rat King had to be verminated, but they made it.  Once they had their jobs, they were hired by one of the temple priests to serve as gofers and problem-solvers, with their first assignment being to go to a small village up in the mountains and see why they hadn't been sending vegetables down to the Dharma markets.

Wheels' Comment

Sounds like a lot of fun! I can appreciate not being able to finish a campaign. It reminds me of not being able to finish the Shining Force 3 story (yes I know I can finish it now, I'll get to it and no I have no idea why I keep bringing up Shining Force). Dharma keeps giving me Lost flashbacks.

Well, from there we had to beat back a small horde of murderous veggie-monsters led by Tuberius, the Potato Baron, then when we got back there was an incident where a monster escaped from a traveling circus.  The monster itself was innocuous enough, a cute little pink slime, but the Ringmaster was... well, not himself.  One of the boys ended up getting a pair of oversized clown pants (Pocus's Pants of Plentiful Pockets) as a trophy for that one.  As it turned out, the little pink slime was actually a princess from the Slime Paradise, who'd been kidnapped and exiled by a treacherous Slime Elder.

Wheels' Comment

 I'm sorry I'm still chuckling at the Potato Baron!

Our last adventure was an ocean voyage.  We were supposed to deliver the slime princess back to her home, but a band of octopirates attacked, and my characters (a kung-fu girl and the little metal slime) were separated from the rest.  After several sessions of fighting through the jungles of a desert island, fending off sinister AmBushes and accidentally awakening a sleeping Stoneman, the heroes found the octopirates' hideout, and... well, we already covered that part.

Wheels' Comment


But I had so many ideas left to use!  We never got to prevent that coup d'etat in the Slime Paradise, or visit the bustling trade town of Binbanbonq to learn the secrets of making things blow up.  There was the ancient desert necropolis of Ishk-Bibil to explore, and a robot apocalypse to survive in the clockwork kingdom of Kalakriya.  And then there was the final plotline.  Each of the big bosses had a weird stone on them.  The Were-Rat King had a brown one, while Tuberius had a green one.  The Ringmaster's was red, and the Kraken's was blue.  The Angel Slime Elder would've had a white one, and the one belonging to Rala Croak, Doom Trader, would've been black.  Finally, the leader of the robot revolutionary force, the clockwork ballerina Coppellitrix, would have been powered by the violet one.

Wheels' Comment

I have to say that is an awesome collection of big bosses!

These stones were relics of the Mazeen, an ancient race endowed by the great Creator with the power of calling forth life.  The intent was for the Mazeen to populate the world with amazing new species, using their native creativity to bring a complexity to the environment.  Instead, they used it to create monsters to fight each other with.  In the end, the Creator chose one Mazeen, dubbed the Pacifix, to beat down the rest of the Mazeen and force them to give up their powers.  A handful of great monsters survived the war, each powered by a Mazeen stone crafted from the soul of the monster's creator.  The guardian of Ishk-Bibil, the Gryphinx, had a silver stone of great antiquity within its forehead.  The thing is, the silver stone was weak after 5000 years of existence, while the seven stones my kiddoes were finding were all new.  In the course of research into the origins of magic, some magitechnological types had sort of reverse-engineered the genetic code of the ancient Mazeen, and then (quite unwisely) decided to see what sort of being it would make.  A few years later, and we have a teenaged Mazeen, convinced by unscrupulous researchers that he's the second coming of Satan (more or less), flexing his magic might.  The final battle was going to be epic.

Wheels' Comment

Wow that sounds like an incredible setup for a grand finale, one that any DM would dream of crafting! A true shame you didn't get to send them through it. Still you've got all the ideas, perhaps another group of young adventurers some day?

That's all in the past now, unfortunately, the past and the never-to-be.  You wouldn't happen to know anyone in need of a good plot for an indie game, would you?  All my notes basically add up to Dragon Quest Tactics (1, 2, and potentially a 3).

Wheels' Comment

I'm sure there's some indie RPG maker out there in desperate need of some sort of plot, keep an eye out (or fire up RPG Maker)!

Bonk me on the head in chat if I go too long without writing again, okay?

Your fellow columnist,

Wheels' Comment

Will do, as I'm long overdue to write into your column anyway!

Dragon Quest Times

Hey Wheels,

Dragon Quest VII is a game that I have been playing through recently. I think it fits into that category of games that is chock full of ideas that have been fleshed out better since. In that sense I don't think it holds up as well as other rpgs from that same time frame. The sprites are cute, the combat is paced well and the story is fun and engaging. But every time I sit down to play I find myself wanting to run through DQVIII instead. But I will give credit where it is due. I love the job system that is implemented and I genuinely like the plot and the overall tone of the game. It feels fun and lighthearted, and it nails that nostalgic feeling that playing like an old Zelda game gives. I think my biggest complaint is that I miss seeing my characters in battle. The first person view probably is the main thing holding the game back from being a really gripping retro rpg. In any case, it's stilla great game that I'm having lots of fun with!


Wheels' Comment

I think it's tough to deny that the Dragon Quest series probably stuck to first-person combat for far too long. I know it was there for nostalgia, but when you look at how late in the PS1 life Dragon Quest VII came out, the battle graphics just look bad. It's a shame too because the game has some great sprite work that could have made for a much more interesting battle system. Though I much prefer Dragon Quest VII's battle system as far as mechanics go, Dragon Quest VIII is a lot of fun based on looks alone. When you really look at it too, VIII still maintains the nostalgic feel. Sometimes we stick to an old look way too long (hello Disgaea). All this is proof as to why we really need Dragon Quest VII on 3DS in the West.

Top Tweets

Wheels' Comment

1. The answer? Anyone does really. We see people dump that much time into online shooters, a certain Nintendo monster capturing franchise, and many other games that don't necessarily include "100+ hours" of content. Tons of people put way more time than that into MMOs all the time. It's just a matter of pacing yourself. Wouldn't you want that much content in one game?

2. + 3. Sounds about right. The internet is great place at times that has given many great people a voice. Sadly that also means it also gets overfilled with venom. Sometimes for a game like say, Final Fantasy XIII, it can be quite difficult to weed through the nonsense just to find someone else who liked the thing to discuss it with. Everything has to be the worst or best thing ever and I'm guessing everyone in-between just doesn't have the energy to interject. I can't blame them.

Hot Topics

Here are some hot topics I've seen around the net:

  • Is the MMO Market getting too stale?
  • RPGs from Japan don't seem to have much trouble finding a decent audience in the West, so why are we missing big titles?
  • Oh where oh where are our CM Punk Ice Cream Bars?

See you next week!

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